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Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome

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Gunn: Couple of weeks ago [Connor] was wearing diapers. Now he's a teenager?
Cordelia: Tell me we don't live in a soap opera.

Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome is the device by which writers — possibly frustrated with a Cousin Oliver — send a young child off in order to get back someone old enough to remember lines and have hot and steamy romances. Not to mention the avoidance of all those pesky child labor laws aimed at protecting children in show business, and the public and private agencies that investigate abuses.

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On daytime soaps, pregnancy is a staple storyline. However, the resulting baby is rarely seen after its paternity and/or baby switch has been resolved. When a few years have passed, the child returns as a teenager old enough to have a summer romance.

On sitcoms, babies are cute and give adult characters opportunities to act silly, but toddlers are of little use in comedy until they're old enough to be smart-mouths on their own. Thus, sitcom kids generally turn four or five within two years of their birth.

Different from Plot-Relevant Age-Up in that the latter is at least explained via magic/Applied Phlebotinum/Bizarre Alien Biology, or the transformation is actually shown on-screen. Do not confuse the two when adding examples.

Stephen King referred to this as the "Kid Trick" in Danse Macabre, his text on American horror media in the 20th century.

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Generally abbreviated as SORAS in certain television communities. Not to be confused with multiple people named Sora, nor with liberal billionaire George Soros.

Compare Not Allowed to Grow Old, where the children do age as normally, but the parents seem to stop aging in the interim.

In extreme cases this may result in Absurdly Youthful Mother or Playing Gertrude.

Contrast with Not Allowed to Grow Up and Comic-Book Time.


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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film 
  • Jim Gordon's kids in the Chris Nolan Batman films. In Batman Begins, a scene where Batman goes to talk to then Sergeant Gordon briefly shows Gordon's wife feeding a baby in a high chair. Six months are supposed to have passed between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but the kids now look to be a lot older — their actors were seven and ten at the time of the film's release. This was apparently done so that Gordon could have a deeper relationship with the son but it causes a headache trying to figure out exactly what the timeline for the two films was.
  • Sean and Michael Brody of Jaws are little kids in the first film. In the second, Sean's still a kid while Michael is a teenager. The following two films got around the issue by making them both adults.
  • Rocky: Rocky Jr. (Robert) was nine in Rocky IV when Rocky went to Russia to fight Drago. When he and Adrian return home at the beginning of Rocky V, his son is now in early adolescence. How long were they in Russia?!
  • Allie in Grumpy Old Men is toddler-aged, but in the sequel, which is set only six months later, she is recast with a young actress that appears to be about five or six.

    Literature 
  • In the Book of Genesis, when Joseph reunites with his younger brother Benjamin in Egypt, the latter is a "young boy" (Gn 44.22). A while later when Israel's whole family comes to Egypt too, the "child" is father of ten sons (Gn 46.21). Realistically, though, he should be an adult, having been born before Joseph was sold into slavery twenty-two years earlier; the fact that the story temporarily treats him like a child is an odd fluke.
  • Older Than Feudalism, amazingly enough: In book three of The Aeneid, Ascanius, Aeneas' son, is young enough for Dido to hold him on her lap. By the next book, which takes place no more than a year later, he's old enough to ride a horse and command the respect of the other Trojans. (Virgil originally wrote Ascanius as being old enough to command men, then began a rewrite where Ascanius was younger and managed to get the first three books done, before suffering a case of Author Existence Failure.)
  • Deliberately invoked by the witches in Wyrd Sisters when the witches realize their Hero is only 3 years old. Instead of waiting for him to grow older, they move the entire kingdom of Lancre 15 years into the future
  • In the novel The Amorous Umbrella (sequel to The Incredible Umbrella), our hero ends up in a universe based in 1950's soap opera tropes, where he is trapped for several years. Being a dimensional outsider, he notices the SORAS cases, but nobody else does, even when it's pointed out to them. It worries him that a stepson he acquired, now an infant, will be an adult in five or six years and may - in an Oedipus Rex-inspired plotline common with 1950's soap operas - attempt to kill him.
  • In Time Enough for Love, when Lazarus Long saves Dora from her parents' burning house, she seems to age several years over at most a few weeks. When her father tosses her out the window and Lazarus catches her, she seems to be a toddler (he identifies her at first sight as a "baby"). On the ride into town, she talks well enough to be three years old or so. When he takes her to visit her parents' grave not long afterward, she acts kindergarten age at least. Of course, Heinlein's later fiction has a sentimental preoccupation with what he calls "baby girls," by which he can mean any human female who hasn't reached puberty, so maybe he wasn't sure himself how old Dora was when Lazarus adopted her. Since Lazarus is several thousand years old when telling the story, this could be a case of Unreliable Narrator.
  • In the Adrian Mole series, Glenn is born in 1990, but is already twelve years old in 1997 (when Adrian discovers he is Glenn's father) and then becomes a soldier in 2002 at age seventeen.
  • In The Berenstain Bears. It starts out with Small (later, Brother) Bear. According to The Berenstain Bears and the New Baby he went exploring, snorkeling, and kayaking by himself. Then, Sister Bear was born. The next book, she was about two years younger than Brother. 30 years later Honey Bear was born. Honey rapidly aged to toddlerhood, and in The Berenstain Bears Go Back To School, it is revealed that Brother is entering 3rd grade and Sister is in 1st. That means Brother was 2 when Sister was born, and Sister was 5 when Honey was born (and Mama was pregnant essentially the entire Bear canon). This includes the Bear Scout series (Cub Scouts are required to be in first grade before entering), and the chapter books where Sister is implicated to be in at least 5th or 6th grade.
  • A minor example in Nora Roberts'/JD Robb's In Death where Mavis's daughter Bella is born in January of 2060, and by the summer she is walking and talking.

    Soap Opera 
  • The Young and the Restless
    • Victoria Newman aged from 8 or so to 15 in a single winter in 1991, after aging more or less in real time up to that point. Then three years later, the same thing happened to her younger brother Nicholas. And it has since happened to Nick's children and various other assorted younger characters.
    • Colleen Carlton was one of them. Born onscreen in 1992, she was written out in 1995. She returned six years later, played by 15-year-old Lyndsy Fonseca.
  • From Days of Our Lives:
    • The cumulative effect of this led to Tom Horton and his great-great-grandson Scotty Banning both working as doctors in the same hospital at the same time.
    • When the believed-stillborn Georgia Brady was found alive and raised under the name "Chelsea," she had also been SORASED; as a result, at one point her love interest was Dr. Daniel Jonas, who had also slept with her grandmother, Kate Roberts, with both age differences being only mildly creepy.
    • Shawn-Douglas Brady (born onscreen in 1987), Belle Black (born in 1995), and Philip Kiriakis (born in 1995) suddenly became high-school classmates in 1999. Shawn was aged up relatively slightly, while Belle went upstairs as a little girl one day and came down a teenager the next. Philip was basically fresh off a storyline where his embryo was stolen from his parents and implanted in another woman.
      • Belle and Shawn's daughter Claire was born onscreen in 2005 and left the show as a baby; she returned as a teenager in 2015, five or six extra years older.
      • Shawn's mother Hope Brady was SORAS'd herself, being born onscreen in 1974 but aged up several years in the 1980s.
      • Belle's brother Brady Black was born on the show in 1992 but was in high school by the end of the decade. He even became older than Shawn, who had been present as a toddler at his birth!
    • Nicholas Alamain was portrayed as a child by Erik von Detten, who was 10 or 11 when he left the show in 1993. He came back briefly in 1999, played by 26-year-old Victor Webster, gaining a decade and figuring in a steamy romance. He was next seen in 2011, subverting the trope by being slightly younger than in his previous appearance, played by 23-year-old Cody Longo.
  • From General Hospital:
    • Though not as pronounced, Maxie Jones went from toddler to 7 years old in a few weeks, as well. Notable because she would eventually be played by the same actress who played SORAS-ed Belle (Kirsten Storms).
    • Sonny Corinthos' son Michael was put into a coma that lasted for a year. When he awoke, he was at least 6-10 years older and played by a new actor. His brother Morgan and then-adopted half-sister Kristina were also aged accordingly, and returned played by new actors. The newly teenaged Michael lampshades this by asking Kristina: "When did you become such a hottie?"
    • Lulu Spencer was born in 1994 and portrayed by various child actors for 10 years. She then reappeared as a 17-year old in 2005.
    • Averted with Elizabeth Webber's son Cameron, born in 2004. The actor currently playing the role was actually born in 2005.
    • GH also contains one of the more notable aversions in American daytime: Robin Scorpio, who's been played by the same actress (Kimberly McCullough) since 1985, when both were six years old.
  • Both an example and an aversion, also on ABC, is the character of Starr Manning on One Life to Live. The character was born in 1996, and aged to six when Kristen Alderson started playing the character several months before her seventh birthday in 1998. Tthe character and actress aged at the same rate.
  • From As the World Turns:
    • Luke Snyder was originally born in 1995. Since then, his character has been SORAS-ed two times; in 2001, when nine-year-old Christopher Tavani took over the role, and 2005, when fifteen-year-old Jake Weary played the part. He aged more or less normally when Van Hansis finally took over the role.
    • Chris Hughes who was born on-screen in 1986; by 2003, he was a doctor.
    • Tom Hughes was born onscreen in 1961; by the late 1970s, he'd been to Vietnam and back and was attending law school.
  • From The Bold and the Beautiful
    • Bridget Forrester born on-air in 1992 turned 13 in 1997, and turned 18 in 2000. She has aged naturally since then.
    • Hope Logan was born in 2002 and for several years aged naturally, portrayed by child actors of respective age. In 2010, however, a 21-year old actress took over.
  • Among a host of SORAS-ed characters on All My Children:
    • J.R. Chandler, born 1989, an adult husband and father since 2003.
    • Jamie Martin, born 1990, a med student.
    • Colby Chandler, born 1999, somehow celebrated her 16th birthday in 2006.
    • When we first met Lily Montgomery in 1993, she was played by 8 year-old Michelle Trachtenberg. In 2006, she's 18 and was portrayed by 16-year old Leven Rambin.
    • In 1993, 15-year old Sarah Michelle Gellar portrayed 16-year old Kendall Hart, Erica Kane's long-lost daughter. However, due to timeline discrepancies, 16-year old Kendall was instantly aged from a teenaged girl to 22/23 years old several months later. Nonetheless, when the character returned in 2002 under Alicia Minshew, Kendall's birthdate was reverted back to September 25 1976, Kendall's original birthdate, making her a 16-year girl again in 1993 - undoing the earlier SORAS-ing of Kendall.
    • Subverted with Miranda Montgomery, born 2004, went from being played by a ten-year-old Mackenzie Aladjem in 2011, to the 19 year-old Denyse Tontz. Due to the five-year Time Skip, it's more of a case of Dawson Casting. However the other wiki didn't mention her age.
  • Louis Fairhead in Casualty. His on-screen birth took place in 1996 and he stated he was 10 years old in 2006. A year later he was a rebellious teenager who smoked cannabis and accidentally set his high school on fire. He impregnated a woman in 2010 when he would have been 14 but by this point his year of birth had been changed to 1992 and it was repeatedly announced that he was now 18.
  • British soaps like EastEnders are surprisingly void of this trope. Characters either have the same actor from childhood, or, as a child, they move away, and years later come back as a different actor (but, importantly, as the correct age for the time they have been away). They generally pull this off by having an invisible age between being a baby and a small child where the character is not seen (Coronation Street's Tracy Barlow, for example, spent several years "upstairs, listening to music", before she was finally old enough to do interesting things like have a teenage marriage, or sell her baby from a later relationship (only to decide she wanted it back when she set her sights on the father again), or murder her abusive/cheating boyfriend. It does happen occasionally, but only by a year or two - Ian Beale of EastEnders turned 21 two years after turning 18. Probably the most famous Coronation Street example was Mark Redman: When he was reintroduced in 1992, he was suddenly in high school and the same age as Nicky Platt, despite being born on screen in 1983, two years after him.
    • British soaps are prime-time and generally get a bit more critical respect than their US counterparts, making tropes like this rather discredited. It also makes the actors want to stay on longer, and given the lengthy nature, this can lead to some impressive stints. The character of Ken Barlow was part of the original cast of Coronation Street in 1960 - he is still there, has aged appropriately, and has always been played by the same actor.
  • Passions had two: Little Ethan and Endora.
  • The Finnish soap opera Salatut Elämät has two kids first age from babies to schoolchildren during one summer, and later, from that to teenagers, during a time which in show accounted for one apartment fire. Incidentally, one of the kids helped catch the Evil Twin bad guy, yet she was kidnapped by said bad guy when she was a kid just one season ago.
  • While Neighbours doesn't go to the extremes of US soaps, there's still a noticeable trend of introducing or reintroducing characters into established families old enough to have been born before their parents got together or sometimes even met:
    • This syndrome is especially prominent in the Robinson family, beginning with Lucy Robinson being suddenly aged up about two years after changing actors in 1987. Likewise, her third actor was a year older than the second.
    • Lucinda "Elle" Robinson was born off-screen in October 1989, when she returned in 2005, she should have been sixteen. Instead, she was nineteen, and her parents Paul and Gail didn't get together until 1987. By extension, this applies to her brothers Cameron and Robert. The triplets' case appears to have gotten worse in 2019, with the introduction of Robert's daughter Harlow, born from a brief fling when he was backpacking in 2002. This would require Robert to be about 16 going by their retconned age, so he may have been aged up again to match his actor Adam Hunter (born 1982, as was Elle's actress Pippa Black). But it doesn't help that Harlow's mother's actress is still several years older than him.
    • Paul's first daughter Amy was conceived during his brief career as a flight attendant in 1985 but was stated to be three and a half in 1988 and a nine-year-old in 1992. May have been rectified after her 2015 return, though her actress Zoe Cramond was born in 1984.
    • Rebecca believed (or rather hoped) that Paul was the father of her son Oliver, the result of a weekend fling when he was a flight attendant (again, for a few months in 1985). However, onscreen evidence states that Oliver was born in 1981, and his actor David Hoflin was born in 1979.
    • Hannah Martin is introduced as eight years old in 1992, but is later identified as sixteen in 1999 despite being portrayed by the same actor. Worse, her parents Philip and Julie didn't even get together until 1985, and she wouldn't have been born until at least 9 months after that.
    • Louise "Lolly" Carpenter, born onscreen in 1994, left in 2001, reintroduced in early 2007 as a 15-year-old played by Adelaide Kane. Not only would this imply she was born before Lou and Cheryl had even met (or by extension, Cheryl's affair with John Allen), she would have been born before Lou was even living in Ramsay St. May have been reversed after her original actor made an appearance in late 2013.
    • Serena Bishop, introduced as a 15-year-old in October 2003 even though her father David had been last seen in May 1988, still single.
    • Ben Kennedy/Kirk was born onscreen in December 2001, but appeared to be eight upon returning in 2007, and as of June 2014, he was a Year 10 student (15-16). May have been slightly rectified since, as he was still in high school in 2017. Either way, like the above examples it's still skirting the timeframe of Libby and Drew's relationship.
    • When Liz Conway's guest stint in 2002 ended, she was pregnant with her second daughter. This daughter, Bea Nilsson, would be introduced in 2018, in her early 20s.
    • Inverted with Jack Scully, who was introduced as a 19-year-old in 2001 who had been living and working in the UK away from his family for a few years. He was reintroduced late the following year under a new actor and aged down about two years so he could attend Erinsborough High.
    • Inverted with Andrew Robinson (ironically, considering his family history): born onscreen in November 1991, reintroduced as a 16-year-old in late 2009. His retconned birthdate(s) in August 1993 would require him to be born about a year after Paul and Christina left the street for Hawaii, but just before Paul briefly returned and was Put on a Bus to Hell.
    • Zigzagged with Summer Hoyland - first introduced as a 9-year-old in 2002, started high school and turned 13 in 2004 (same actor), spent a few years Commuting on a Bus before disappearing (around the time her father and brother left the street), reintroduced under a new actor as a 16-year-old in 2010.
    • Probably the most extreme example was Holly Hoyland, who was born onscreen in 2007 but managed to be 15 by 2018, which again would require her to be conceived before her mother Isabelle was even living in the street and had met Karl..
  • From Home and Away:
    • Duncan Stewart (son of Alf and Ailsa) - originally aging normally from baby to toddler to young child, the character then disappeared only to reappear two years older the following season.
    • Also Martha, who arrived as an 18 year-old going on 19 in 2005, despite being born onscreen in 1988.
    • Olivia Fraser Richards, born on screen in 1999, managed to be eight years old in 2005. When she returned as a teenager a decade later, her age skipped about alarmingly with her going from 17 down to 16 and then turning 18 less than two years later, which still made her younger than either of the earlier ages.
    • However, it should be noted that the show otherwise averts this, with Sally Fletcher being the most obvious example.
  • Guiding Light:
    • First it gives us Leah Bauer. Sending her to boarding school when she was about a year old was one thing, but when she came back a year later she was 14, twelve years older than her older brother.
    • Phillip Spaulding was introduced in 1977 as being approximately eight years old; after leaving for a time in 1980, he was recast and returned in 1982, now played by 22-year old Grant Aleksander. The character's age progression, from 1982 on, paralleled that or Aleksander, who would continue to play Phillip, off and on, through Guiding Light's 2009 cancellation.
    • Chrissy Blake was a little kid in the late 70s, was gone for 8 eights, returned as a full adult. One of the better cases at least.
  • New Zealand's Shortland Street does this to Tuesday Warner, played by Olivia Tennet (aka Dr. K). Although born in 1995, she comes back to Ferndale in 2007 at fourteen years old.

    Live-Action TV 

Sitcoms

  • In Boy Meets World, four-year-old Morgan Matthews disappeared for a season or so, then unexpectedly reappeared significantly older. This was lampshaded when one character commented on her long absence and she said, "That was the longest time-out I've ever had."
    • Cory, Shawn and Topanga also age an extra two years; Mr. Feeny says in an early episode that they're part of the Class of 2000, but they graduate from high school in 1998. This appears to be a Matthews family trait; baby Joshua was born in 1999 but seemed to be two or three years old in 2000 (and 17 in 2014).
  • Richie from Family Matters was a toddler in the show's first season. By the second season, he's at least four or five.
  • On Family Ties, Andrew is born late in season 3 and is played by twin babies (Garrett and Tyler Merriman) in season 4, but at the start of season 5 he's suddenly being played by a then-five-year-old Brian Bonsall, who then stays for the duration (seasons 5-7).
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air called attention to this when it replaced the newborn Nicky Banks with a six-year-old actor (Ross Bagley): Nicky walked in the room while Jazz was talking to Will, prompting the former to ask who he was. Will says "That's baby Nicky!" while mugging to the camera and making a "growing" gesture with his hands. A frustrated Jazz shouts "Man, I'm going back to the streets where things make sense!" (Will also does a double-take when he sees "older" Nicky for the first time and Jazz enters the scene asking if Aunt Viv has been recast again) This of course, is the same show where Will once asks why the house doesn't have a ceiling (followed by a camera pan upwards to show the studio lights).
  • Full House was a little bit more subtle about this. Jesse and Rebecca's twin boys Nicky and Alex go from infants in season 5 to pre-verbal, long haired toddlers in season 6. Not as egregious as most examples, but a bit noticeable. Completely averted with Michelle, who starts off about 1 year old and grows at normal speed. Of course, they kept the same actresses for Michelle, which would've made it hard to pull off.
  • Quentin Kelly went from being around eleven to about fifteen on Grace Under Fire when Jon Paul Steuer left the show note .
  • Growing Pains also featured this trope with Chrissy, though they didn't implement it for until a season after the actual birth.
  • Last Man Standing did this to Boyd, who started at 2 in the first season and went to 5 in the second. His mother Kristin had Boyd when she was 17, and that remained true as well, making her 19 in the first season and suddenly 23 in the second. Everyone else remained the same age. Also notable in that Boyd had very little presence in the first season, limited to just being carried around and/or being told he is a handful, while he became an active character in the second season by virtue of just being able to hold a conversation, also with some minor sub plots surrounding him.
  • Lily on Modern Family. The two-year-old twins who originally played her became increasingly difficult to work with during season two, and were replaced by four year old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons for the next season (also making it an example of The Other Darrin). The age-up is minimal: Lily celebrates her second birthday in February 2011, but is stated to be three by September of the same year, then carries on ageing as normal. The slight discrepancy gets further covered up by a couple of time-skips in Seasons 3 and 5 that account for about six months in the series' timeline altogether, but if you're paying attention you can still tell she's skipped a birthday somewhere in there, as her age used to correspond to the number of seasons the show had run for (e.g. she turned 2 in Season 2), but she's now one year ahead (she's explicitly stated to be 6 in Season 5, 7 in Season 6, etc...). The fact that the writers usually go out of their way to Show Their Work in having the characters have actual birthdays that they celebrate at the same time every year makes this more noticeable.
  • My Family appears to take place in real-world time with a year between each series (judging by in-show references and the Christmas specials) but Kenzo, born in series four, is mentioned as being nine years old in series ten. Also extends to Janey, who is fifteen years old in the first series and claims to be "almost 30" in the tenth.
  • Defied in Raising Hope, where the twins playing Hope grow up in the show and done deliberately because she was vital to the shows premise, going through all the normal stages of childhood development (sleeping through the night, potty training, staying in bed, etc). This has added to its charm, as the show made great use of her reaction shots without being cloying and they would talk in halted phrases later in the shows run. There is a notably different, dark haired, baby used in the pilot.
  • Inverted in Roseanne where Darlene's daughter Harris was born in 1997 and is a High School freshman at the start of the 2018 continuation season.
  • Step by Step featured Lily, the baby of the family aging from an infant in one season, to a speaking toddler of pre-school age in the next - Presumably because the writers realized they had no idea what to do with a baby other than making jokes about her keeping the rest of the family awake at night.
  • Blackish: The twins Diane and Jack are originally mentioned to be six years old in the first season. By season 3, they're aged up to 10.

Dramas

  • On American Horror Story, the character of antichrist Michael Langdon is born at the end of the show's first season Murder House, with a brief epilogue in the finale showing him as a toddler. He appears seven years later in Apocalypse —which is set in 2019— but has somehow rapidly aged into an adult by then. It is later shown in a flashback episode that he literally aged ten years in one night, presumably to prepare for his role in the apocalypse.
  • Angel. Connor is kidnapped as a baby and forced to grow up in a hell dimension that runs at a faster time. Although Connor's return indicates he is sixteen, his age is changed to eighteen a year later when he sleeps with Cordelia. The characters in-universe are very squicked out because Connor's hellish upbringing has left him emotionally fragile, and it's only been a few months for them since Cordelia was acting as a newborn Connor's surrogate mother.
  • Catherine Willows' daughter Lindsey on CSI seemed to age jump a year or so several times during the series. Then they got worse with it and skipped at least a year to two years with Eli Brown. He was a baby at his dad's funeral in season 9 and about 6 in season 13.
    • Lucy Messer got a mild case, but only approximately six months to a one year skip on CSI: NY. She was born in season 5, and would be 4 if not for the age up plus the six month skip between seasons 8 and 9. Danny put her age at 5.
  • On the first season of Degrassi High several of the freshman were only in seventh grade the season before, on Degrassi Junior High, the most obvious being Arthur's younger cousin Dorothy, who's now in the same grade as him.
  • Alexis in Falling Skies, the daughter of Toman Mason and Anne, grows to adulthood in a few months due to Bizarre Alien Biology as she's a Half-Human Hybrid.
  • Part of the plotting for what would have been the fifth season of Farscape was compressed into The Peacekeeper Wars; specifically, Aeryn being pregnant (which had actually happened toward the end of the third season). Since the miniseries was only four hours long, the creators handwaved this by saying that Aeryn, from being born into a Peacekeeper battle regiment, had been genetically modified so that her pregnancy would only last a week or so. She goes from completely flat to big-belly pregnant almost in-between scenes. They also use the explanation that Bizarre Alien Biology (and presumably Applied Phlebotinum) allow Peacekeeper females to hold pregnancies in stasis for up to 7 years (to prevent complications due to female soldiers becoming untimely pregnant) makes the Handwave that pregnancies progress rapidly once released plausible.
  • Tommen Baratheon in Game of Thrones. For seasons 1 and 2, he was portrayed by 10-year-old Callum Wharry, in a mostly background, non-speaking role. The character was absent for season 3, but for season 4 the role was recast with 16-year-old Dean-Charles Chapman. This is done after his character becomes an Ascended Extra because of his brother's death. He is now the King of the Seven Kingdoms, and thus is now central to several upcoming storylines (including a marriage to 32-year-old actress Natalie Dormer).
  • In Ghost Whisperer, Delia's son Ned aged from a boy just celebrating his 13th birthday (actually was a part of the plot in one episode), to a high school Junior (at least) in less than six months.
  • Grimm: Diana Schade-Renard was whisked away as an infant in the last episode of season 5. She returned a girl of around 5 midway through season 6. She is 3/4 hexenbiest though so this may ultimately be a factor of her supernatural biology.
  • The Time Skip between the end of Heroes and the start of Heroes Reborn is supposed to be about the same length of time between the former show going off the air and the latter debuting. The character of Molly Walker, however, was recast with an actress three years older—and the original series' Molly was Dawson Cast to begin with, being only 7 or 8 at the series' start and being portrayed by a 10-year-old.
  • Lost had this problem with Walt from the start. The events of Season 1 lasted only 44 days, yet his actor already aged well over a year - compare his scenes in The Pilot to his Flashback in Exodus, which showed events of the same day. The only realistic solution available to writers was to have him be kidnapped by others and all his Character Development resulted in an Aborted Arc: his appearances in Seasons 2 and 3 were brief and were shot in such a way as to disguise his new height. They were able to show him more after the show made a Time Skip of three years, yet he still aged way too much in that time period.
  • Averted on Mad Men. Although multiple child actors are used to portray the growing children in the cast, they don't grow any faster than the timeline dictates. (The show tends to jump forward about a year between seasons.) Meanwhile, because the show runners want to hold onto Kiernan Shipka's outstanding acting talent, Sally Draper actually appears to age slower than the show's calendar would dictate.
    • Flat-out inverted in Bobby's case; he was recast three times for a total of four actors with the result that he was no younger than 4 or 5 in 1960 but somehow still not a teenager in 1970.
  • The Turkish series Magnificent Century being set in a harem means that pregnancy is a big plot point, but the ages of the babies once they're born rarely make any sense. By the end of season one, one character has had three babies, and the youngest was born long enough ago that she is pregnant again, so at least two but probably closer to three years pass since the start of the season, though not more. Explicitly-stated five year old Mustafa ages four to eight years between one episode and the next, with no timeskip, while infant Mehmet is just as abruptly replaced with a toddler who can walk (conveniently, as his ability to crawl is pertinent to the first episode he's aged up in). Mirimah quickly goes from a baby to a walking, talking toddler between episodes, too. Presumably the creators realized it wasn't possible for all of Hurrem's children to be infants at the same time, especially since the season ends with her pregnancy.
    • At one point, the actress playing Mahidevran and the actor playing her son Mustafa are five years apart. And that's before the Time Skip.
  • In the first season of The O.C., Kaitlin Cooper is referred to as a fifth-grader. Two seasons later, she's fourteen, which means an extra year has been added on somewhere. It's an interesting case because the new actress was only a few months older.
  • In Rome, the teenage Octavian goes off to war for a year or two and returns as a man, played by a new, older actor. Several characters note how different he looks, with one blaming military rations. The physical change coincides with a change in Octavius' character from the clever child Octavius to the Magnificent Bastard Caesar Agustus.
    • Also inverted with Vorenus' children. Vorena the younger is played by the same pre-teen actress throughout the entire series, despite the show covering somewhere between ten and twenty years. Baby Lucius ages up to around seven but then stays that age despite Caesarion, who is several years younger than him, growing to about ten years of age.
    • Both points can be blamed on the series' cancellation halfway through Season 2. Had the show lasted the 5 projected years, all original actors would have aged at the right pace and no recast would have been needed.
  • Subverted and played straight on Sesame Street. Miles was adopted in 1985, while Gabi was born in 1989, but they both graduated from high school in 2006.
  • Why wait until the child is even born? In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla goes from not visibly pregnant at all and still trying to undertake semi-dangerous missions to hugely pregnant between episodes. A conversation from the previous episode is referenced in a way that makes a Time Skip seem unlikely. Possibly explainable by Bizarre Alien Biology, but as the Stargate-verse's Human Aliens are descended from actual humans, that, too, is unlikely.note 
  • A Star Trek example that is not a Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Deep Space Nine's Tora Ziyal. Yes, she's an adult when we meet her, but she's played by three actresses: first the then-21 Cyia Batten, followed by 26-year-old Tracy Middendorf, and finally, when the writers decided she was going to be romantically involved with Garak, 33-year-old Melanie Smith. That's 12 years of aging in one season's worth of episodes (Batten's last appearance is in 4.14, Smith's first is 5.14.) Though the character technically didn't age (super-rapidly, at any rate), the constant actor switching led to some confusion about just how old Ziyal was supposed to be.
    • The ones that were Plot-Relevant Age-Up situations were less "someone becomes older as a plot point" and more "Textbook SORAS with a one-line Hand Wave." For completeness's sake...
      • Alexander's The Other Darrin-ing in TNG takes him from preschooler to ten-ish in a few episodes and an older teenager by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Alexander is played in the middle stages by Brian Bonsall, making this his second famous case of SORAS after Family Ties. Expanded Universe materials Hand Wave this as the entire Klingon race maturing fast, with Worf being in his early 20's (Earth years) while the rest of the crew was significantly older.
      • Naomi from Voyager's sudden skipping of a few years to take her from infant to major recurring character, her usual actress being her third.
    • Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, even refers to Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome by name in both these cases. It's especially glaring when aliens who live twice as long as humans grow up in one-third the time. Naomi's, however, is handwaved by her character being part alien.
    • The trope is also mentioned by Memory Alpha for Molly O'Brien, who was born in "Disaster" and inexplicably aged at three, maybe four times the usual rate to add some pathos to "Rascals"...according to most of the ways used to relate stardates to our timekeeping, anyway.
  • In Gotham, Poison Ivy was a kid (Claire Foley) but rapidly aged into a more mature version of herself (Maggie Geha).
  • The Orville: Topa has aged from an egg to a baby to being about ten years old between the first and second seasons, much like Alexander in TNG. This may be a result of Moclan physiology however, as Dr. Finn's sons appear to have only aged a year or so between Seasons 1 and 2.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In the first decade of Peanuts, some characters aged far more rapidly than others. Notably:
    • Schroeder, introduced in early 1951 as an infant, within a year became first a toddler piano prodigy, and then not only fully verbal but apparently the same age as Charlie Brown, Shermy and friends.
    • Lucy was a crib-bound toddler in her first appearances, and aged until she reached a point where she's apparently slightly older than Charlie Brown (based on the fact that Charlie Brown and her little brother, Linus, are usually depicted as being in the same class).
    • Linus, introduced in late 1952, was somewhere between infant and toddler for two years, and a typical preschooler for the next year or two. Then, in 1957, he rapidly became the precocious Christian theologian he would remain ever after. (He never gave up his security blanket, however.)
    • Also happened later on. Sally Brown was the first character born into the strip, in 1961 (Snoopy mentions waiting "until her eyes are open" to go visit her). Theoretically, this should make her at least several years younger than the rest of the cast. But by the early 70s she was more or less the same age as Linus. Similarly, almost overnight in the 90s, Rerun Van Pelt went from a toddler to kindergarten age.
    • Of course, the characters are still kids when the comic ended in 2000.
  • Guille in Mafalda, went from a newborn baby to a speaking child in only a few comic strips.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Weird variant not involving actors: In the original Ravenloft boxed set, a family tree of the d'Honaire bloodline includes the notation of a Gerard d'Honaire, born 726, died 733. Fourteen real-world years later, the sourcebook Legacy of the Blood: Great Families of the Core depicts this same Gerard as still dying in 733 ... but as a teenager applying for medical school. This is most likely a Retcon, as those things happen very often between D&D editions.

    Theatre 
  • Curiously, this happens to the Princes in the Tower in William Shakespeare's Richard III, if one assumes continuity with Henry VI Part III. In the final scene of the latter play, Henry VI has just been murdered and Edward IV has just become the father of a son. Then, in the early scenes of Richard III, Henry's recently-deceased corpse is brought onstage, indicating that not much time has passed between plays (Richard has a line that suggests it's three months, but that is its own set of problems); a few scenes later, we meet Edward's son, now a pre-teen with a younger brother. This is all the result of Shakespeare's condensation of the historical timeline.
  • This happens to Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family. In Charles Addams' original cartoons and all the adaptations, she is a little girl. In The Musical, she got boosted to 18 and engaged to be married. Even her signature braids are gone.

    Video Games 
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims 2 suffers from this. It's entirely possible to play one family through several generations whilst the rest of the neighbourhood is static. The Sims 3 does slightly better in that the entire neighbourhood ages as you play rather than just the active household, but there is still the problem of disproportionate age groups. For example, in either game it's quite likely that a baby born while her/his older sibling is in high school will itself start high school before the older kid graduates. Later patches for the game allow you to set the length of each age group to avoid this.
    • In the original The Sims 1 as well as The Sims 4, babies age directly up into children. (Though, a patch for The Sims 4 reintroduced toddlers.)
  • Fable. 'Congratulations, you've just spent 10 years in a depressing evil fortress! Your child is no longer an infant, but a regular child now! Oh, and your wife's still the same as ever. As well as all the other NPC children'.
    • A better example is if you have a child, then another in a different town. When you get back to your first they'll no longer be an infant.
      • The Guildmaster from the first game is an old man when you're a child, and is STILL an old man when the player is.
      • And no matter how long you take to do (or get around to doing) certain quests, your mother and sister won't age beyond what their set ages are. So you can end up being a 60 year old man, when your mother is set at being 50 or so, and your (older) sister still appears to be in her mid 20s.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • Diddy Kong Racing DS introduced the current design for Tiny Kong, who now looks considerably more developed than her older sister Dixie Kong.
    • Cranky Kong has been stated to be the Donkey Kong seen in the 1981 arcade game and its sequels. Ever since the first Donkey Kong Country game, he would appear as an elderly ape, while the younger playable Donkey is his grandson. Keep in mind that Mario was also featured in those arcade games and since then, he hasn't aged at all.
  • In the various Harvest Moon games, the aging of your child is rarely consistent with reality. But the most egregious example is probably in Harvest Moon: Animal Parade, with the rival children. Two weeks after they're born, bam—the rival children suddenly and rapidly age to being about six or seven years old, with zero explanation, and then they stay that way for all eternity.
  • Bipin and Blossom's son in The Legend of Zelda: Oracle Games grows from a baby to a child during the course of the first game you play, then into a teenager during a linked game.
  • Coco was originally presented as Crash Bandicoot's pre-teen/young teen sister. Beginning with Crash Nitro Kart she hit a growth spurt and her design became more mature-looking, ditching the overalls for a short t-shirt and jeans.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Amy Rose was intially eight years old in her debut game, Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Come Sonic Adventure, she was given her current design and aged up to a twelve-year old. As of the Retcon established in Sonic Generations, the entire cast of characters from the classic games could technically qualify as it is implied that they aged four years between the Classic Era and Sonic Adventure.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • In a somewhat rare animated example, the 1951 Donald Duck cartoon "Lucky Numbers" made Huey, Dewey, and Louie into teenagers for just one short, as the plot required the trio to be able to drive a car.
  • On Family Guy, Cleveland Jr. was a child between the age of 7-10; on the spinoff The Cleveland Show, he is now 14 and looks completely different even though no one else has aged. Peter comments on this in the pilot episode. Subverted. It's revealed that Fat Cleveland Jr. is actually a spy who killed and replaced the original Cleveland Jr.
    • In one episode, Peter donates sperm, which results in a lesbian couple giving birth to Bertram, the same kid Stewie met when he went into Peter to prevent them from having more kids. In the course of apparently no time at all, Bertram ages to about Stewie's age (about age 1). Either that, or a year passed and nobody but Bertram changed.
      • While the character's models haven't changed, the characters have aged about 2 years. Meg goes from 16 and learning to drive during the first season to 18 and "legal" over the course of the series. Chris also goes from middle school to high school. Stewie, however, remains approximately 1 year old.
      Stewie: Brian, I'm one.
      Brian: ...still?
  • The Simpsons: Several child characters age significantly in the same time it took Bart and Lisa and especially Maggie to... remain exactly the same age.
    • Apu's children were conceived and aged from newborn babies to kids old enough to walk and talk.
    • The first ten seasons included occasional appearances by Apu's brother Sanjay, who himself had two children, before all three stopped appearing. The son, Jamshed, actually returned in season 27 as a teenager who just got back from college—in his first appearance he was clearly younger than Bart and Lisa.
    • Between "The Great Louse Detective" and "The Italian Bob", Sideshow Bob meets and marries a woman in Italy, and they had a son who's already old enough to walk, talk, and wield a knife.
    • Bart's love interest (through arranged hillbilly marriage), Mary Spuckler, runs off to New York between Seasons 19 and 24. Come her next appearance, Mary's physical appearance has changed dramatically with little explanation.
    • Ling Bouvier has completely bypassed Maggie in age in the episode "Changing of the Guardian", with the ability to simultaneously play a flute, spin a lasso rope, do a floor routine, spin two hula hoops, and paint a portrait of her mother and aunt.
    • When Manjula first appeared in a flashback in "Much Apu About Nothing", it was as a joke about a then-young-adult Apu having a young child as an arranged fiance. When they actually get married in "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons", they were retconned to have both been children when first engaged.
  • Parodied in the Futurama Soap Within a Show All My Circuits. Antonio Calculon Jr. goes from being a child acting robot to a fully grown bending unit (played by Bender) that is in a coma in the course of one episode.
  • Franklin sees the characters of Bear's sister Beatrice and Franklin's sister Harriet shoot from being newborn babies to preschoolers in a program where the other child characters are generally Not Allowed to Grow Up. What's particularly jarring is that Harriet isn't introduced until several seasons after the show's original premiere, but is later retconned as a preschooler into several recursive book adaptations based on earlier installments of the TV show.
  • American Dad!:
    • When Toshi's sister Akiko first appeared, she was distinctly pre-pubescent. The next time she showed up, she was at least the same age (if not older) as Steve and company.
    • Greg and Terry's daughter Liberty was born through Francine as a surrogate in the season 3 episode "Surro-Gate"; in the season 8 episode "Spelling Bee My Baby" she is now about 3 or 4.
  • Steven Universe: Amethyst in the present looks and acts like a teenager or young adult. When Greg first met Rose Quartz, Amethyst still looked, acted, and was treated like a 7 year old (though her height is the same). She's 6000 years old. Presumably her interaction with Greg and/or Vidalia helped her mature a bit.
  • The timeline of the Classic Disney Shorts is extremely woozy anyway, but Max has grown up from a kid in 1950s media, to a preteen in Goof Troop, to a teenager in the Goofy Movies and finally a young adult in House of Mouse. Ignoring that he should have aged way more, this is still ten years' worth of aging over a period where Huey, Dewey and Louie, or Morty and Ferdie, all consistently stayed the same twelvish age.
  • In Dr. Zitbag's Transylvania Pet Shop, Officer Deadbeat's son Damian first appeared as an infant in the episode "Horrybaby". He becomes a prepubescent child in "Son of Zitbag" and is depicted as a teenager in "I Was a Teenage Zitbag". The latter also depicted the Exorsisters' nieces Listeria and Salmonella as being adolescents even though they were young girls in their debut episode "The Show Mustn't Go On".

Alternative Title(s): SORAS

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